Maputo — Daviz Simango, leader of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), has publicly apologized for the fact that the MDM parliamentary group voted in favour of what he now regards as “unrealistic” privileges for parliamentary deputies, and for the President of the Republic (in office, and once he has left office).
The law increasing perks for deputies was passed unanimously, and stung civil society bodies into organizing a protest march in Maputo on 17 May against what they describe as “legalized robbery”.
The bill, passed by all three parliamentary groups provides very generous social security and pension arrangements for parliamentarians. Any deputy who has served for three terms (15 years) and has paid 15 per cent of his wages in social security contributions is entitled to a full monthly pension, equivalent to the highest remuneration he received in parliament, updated to take inflation into account.
Deputies who have completed just one term (five years) but have reached retirement age (60 for men and 55 for women) are also entitled to the full parliamentary pension for the rest of their live, as are those who are younger, but have worked for 35 years for the state.
When deputies end their term of office they can receive a “reintegration allowance”, which is a lump sum equivalent to 75 per cent of their annual wages for each year spent in parliament. This is combined with the parliamentary pension.
According to calculations made by civil society bodies, the pension scheme for deputies will become gradually more expensive, and could be costing the country the equivalent of nine million US dollars a year by 2034.
Speaking at a meeting with MDM supporters in the southern city of Matola on Saturday, Simango apologised “for the serious mistake which our parliamentary group made”.
“It was a serious mistake”, he insisted. “We made a very grave error” - and if the MDM ever had the chance it would vote to remove the privileges granted to parliamentarians.
For the moment, Simango is hoping the President Armando Guebuza will veto these bills, and sent them back to parliament for reconsideration.
Cited on the independent television station STV, Simango said he is seeking an audience with Guebuza, at which he will urged the President not to promulgate the bill, but to send it back to be reworked.
Furthermore, he pledged that, if the bill does become law, MDM deputies will not accept the pension rights and other perks granted. Furthermore, in future legislatures, the MDM would work to reverse the bill.